The 2013 Athena Film Festival Award Winners Include:
Ava DuVernay is an American filmmaker, marketer and film distributor. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize (Dramatic) for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere. The film was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) at Sundance and for Best Film at the 2012 Gotham Awards. In 2010, she wrote, produced and directed the narrative feature, I Will Follow, starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Released theatrically in 2011, the family drama was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “… one of the best films I’ve seen about the loss of a loved one.” DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed 2008 hip hop documentary, This is The Life which was the winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle.
DuVernay directed and produced three network music documentaries in 2010. My Mic Sounds Nice is a history of female hip-hop artists that aired on BET. Live from the Essence Music Festival, a two-hour concert film chronicling the nation’s largest annual African-American entertainment gathering, and Essence Presents: Faith in 2010, a documentary about black women Katrina survivors, aired on TV One.
Previously, DuVernay worked as a film marketer and publicist for 15 years, forming DVA Media + Marketing in 1999. Her award-winning firm provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann and Bill Condon. A UCLA graduate, DuVernay also is the founder of AAFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement and a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She is based in Los Angeles.
Molly Haskell is a film critic and author who has written and lectured widely on film and the roles of women. Her books include From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies; Love and Other Infectious Diseases: a Memoir; and, most recently, Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited. She has taught at Columbia, Barnard, and Sarah Lawrence, served as film critic for New York magazine and Vogue, and written for many publications, including the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Town & Country, the Guardian and The Nation. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics, has served as a member of the selection committee for the New York Film Festival, and was the Artistic Director of the Sarasota French Film Festival for seven years. Her work was featured in The Library of America’s 2006 American Movie Critics, edited by Philip Lopate, and she won a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2010.
Rose Kuo is the executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center which presents international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema, highlighted by its annual New York Film Festival. It also co-presents New Directors, New Films; New Fest; New York African Film Festival; New York Asian Film Festival; New York Jewish Film Festival; Latin Beat; Open Roads, New Italian Cinema; Rendezvous with French Cinema; and Spanish Cinema Now.
While at the Film Society, Kuo has overseen the launch of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (including two state-of-the-art cinemas, an amphitheater and Indie Food and Wine), oversees the annual Chaplin Award Gala, and serves as publisher of Film Comment.
Her career in the film industry spans two decades and includes leading world class film festivals and organizations, producing and directing fiction and documentary films, and working with critically acclaimed filmmakers. As the American Film Institute’s AFI FEST Artistic Director, Kuo was the architect of AFI’s “free festival” model which continues today. She has also served as a programmer and consultant for Los Angeles County Museum, AFI Dallas, and the San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Mill Valley film festivals. Kuo began her career as an assistant to Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and as a camera assistant to famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Rose produced and directed California Aids Ride ‘94, executive produced The Fluffer and has worked with renowned directors Michael Mann, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese.
Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer in 2006, The Paley Center for Media has become a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts, continuing to offer its unrivaled collection of radio, television, and advertising content as a lens for exploring the powerful impact of media on society. By attracting high profile leaders in entertainment, technology, business, and politics, Mitchell has brought new life to The Paley Center’s innovative programming and continues to lead the Paley Center into the digital era: spearheading the conversion of the organization’s collection of nearly 150,000 television and radio programs to a digital format; overseeing the redevelopment of its interactive website; and negotiating content deals with prominent Internet portals and broadband companies.
Prior to joining the Paley Center, Mitchell was the President and CEO of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the first woman and first producer and journalist to hold the position. During her tenure, she oversaw the development of a celebrated new series for children focusing on literacy and diversity. She led public broadcasting’s conversion from analog to digital broadcasting, the launch of a high-definition PBS channel and an on-demand and cable preschool children’s service, the growth of PBS’s website into one of the three most visited sites on the Internet, and the establishment of the Digital Future Initiative to help define models for public service media using digital technologies.
In 1992, Mitchell became an executive in charge of original productions for Ted Turner’s cable networks. Over the next eight years as executive producer, her documentaries and specials received thirty-seven Emmy Awards, five Peabody Awards, and two Academy Award nominations. Mitchell herself has received numerous awards during the course of her career, including being named to Newsweek’s 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World, the Huffington Post’s 2012 list of the Most Powerful Women Over 50, Forbes.com list of Women Changing the World, and Fast Company’s Special Report, The League of Extraordinary Women.